Copperfield Street Community Garden and the red-bricked building adjoining it stand on the site of the original All Hallows Church. Designed by George Gilbert Scott Junior, the church was built in 1879-80. It was bombed twice during WW2. Gutted by a landmine, it remained in its damaged state until well after the war.
It was not until 1957 that any attempt was made to salvage the bombed remains. The main structure was demolished and the northern part – the Lady Chapel – and the crypt were incorporated into a new smaller church designed by Thomas F. Ford.
The new church was built through the enthusiasm and vision of George Reindorp, a former Provost at Southwark Cathedral. It was opened and consecrated in Autumn 1958. The remainder of the site was turned into this small simple garden. The crucifix at the end of the garden stands on what was once the altar of the original church. The smaller church was in use until 1971 when a dwindling congregation meant it was no longer sustainable.
The All Hallows Mural and Hans Feibusch
George Reindorp commissioned the renowned WW2 artist, Hans Feibusch, to paint a mural for the church. All Hallows' links with WW2 are further strengthened by the artist’s personal history. Feibusch fled Germany in the 1930s to escape the Nazi regime. He was one of Hitler's so-called 'degenerate artists', exhibited by them at a show in 1937 to highlight modernist art trends the regime opposed. Feibusch was, in fact, a conservative painter, but was probably included in that exhibition because he was Jewish. The All Hallows’ mural, Noli me Tangere (‘Let Me Go’), depicts Jesus appearing before Mary Magdalene after his resurrection. The mural remains in All Hallows, but has been bricked up for decades.
All Hallows – The Cradle of Brit Pop?
For a period of time in the early 1980s, All Hallows Church was converted into a recording studio and became the home of the hits. Blackwing Studios was where Depeche Mode laid down their debut album, Speak and Spell, and it was also here that Yazoo made their early recordings. Blackwing was one of the studios that led the way in producing the synth sound associated with Brit Pop. The studios closed in September 2001. The building has been empty ever since.